Monday, June 20, 2011

The Workers - With Update

I find it offensive that the pro-union protesters in many places throughout the country - including the building I work in - refer to themselves as the workers. It is more than implied that they are people who actually do some work and the others are...what, exactly?

I get it that they have some resentment that their opposition portrays them as having cushy government jobs, with bloated benefits and pensions unknown to those in private employment. That opposition does tend to focus on the worst excesses they can find, of union officials or folks who have landed in bountiful sinecures of a bloated government or favored industry. Thank rankles. That annoys. I get that.

But the return service is quite simply, far worse. We/they (as a person who is represented by a union in salary negotiations but not a member myself, it is a bit ambiguous which side of the divide I fall on) are not the only people in America working, or working hard. Most people in the world do decent work with far too little appreciation - we aren't the only ones.

Confronted directly with this complaint (I have mentioned this a few times to people at work whose rhetoric rose into extreme territory), union members protest that they didn't say or mean any such thing: they know other people work hard, too. That is just complete bullshit. The reference to calling themselves "The Workers," is calculated and repeated. If the rank-and-file aren't consciously aware of it, the people making the posters and leading the charge emphatically are. It is the old class-warfare rhetoric, portraying themselves as the noble sons of toil versus the wealthy exploiters. The best they can manage for those who oppose them is that they have been duped by these moneyed interests, and needed to be enlightened about the political realities.

The people on the streets love the narrative, love to imagine themselves as the wise and noble workers, who have seen through the manipulations of the powerful who would put them in their place.

Again, I get it. There are exploiters out there. There are also ignorant people who equally love the narrative where you are the perfumed princes living off government largess extracted from decent folks. But remember those "ignorant" people are dealing from some real examples, real statistics, and real data. It may be the people supplying you with info who are projecting.

Addition: It's rather like political groups who claim to represent Christians, or Women, or Seniors, without any identifiable credentials that they have been elected or appointed to the position. I think back to the childhood taunt: "Who died and left you boss?"


karrde said...


Sounds like good propaganda. Instead of "these workers", it is "The Workers."

I don't know the specific issues the Union usually handles in your case, nor whether they are better handled in a combative manner or in another manner.

I do know that unions are typically very combative in their public presentation of themselves. And it's something that I'm happy I don't have to deal with.

Dubbahdee said...

There are the Represented workers, those joined in solidarity to their brothers and sisters in labor through the holy auspices of The Union.

Then there are the unrepresented workers, who fall into two categories: The victims and the scabs.

Victims are those who are ignorant of the union gospel, or prevented by the evil machinations of Management from joining the Union Brotherhood. They would if they could but they are oppressed. It is the fault of The Man.

Scabs are those who spurn the loving and tender offer from the hand of The Union -- the Union what would shelter and protect them if only the Scabs would join. But, for their faithless refusal to own the Union as their savior, the scabs are banished to the outer darkness to wail and gnash their teeth when the the Bosses raise their Healthcare premiums or fire their sorry asses and move the factory to Singapore.